June 1, 2000
Functional and Fruity Drinks
By: Paula Frank
It's nice to write about a topic that lends itself to field research - i.e., actually consuming the subject in question. In this case, it's functional and fruity drinks. The category is a large one, encompassing everything from drinks fortified with vitamins and minerals to those with botanicals, amino acids, protein, prebiotics or micronutrients added, with fruit-juice content ranging anywhere from 0% to 100%.
The row across my desk of now-empty bottles, formerly filled with functional and fruity liquids, brings to mind several questions. Did the beverages taste good? Would I buy them again? Are the functional ingredients standardized and used at an efficacious level? Do the combinations of ingredients make sense? Is there really a specific health benefit, or is the drink just sugar water with fancy graphics boasting interesting-sounding ingredients? Hopefully, beverage manufacturers are asking themselves these same questions.
More than a niche
Fortified fruity beverages are a growing category, notes Dave Watkins, vice president of specialty concentrates, Tree Top, Selah, WA. "What was traditionally a niche market, or the health section of the store, has now reached mainstream." Evidence backing this claim can be found throughout the grocery store, from calcium-fortified orange juice to a variety of fruit drinks in the beverage aisle. Many of these drinks attract consumers with unique packaging and colorful graphics. Other draws to this type of product include their refreshment factor and, quite often, their portable, single-serve convenience.
David Wilson, CEO, A.M. Todd Botanicals, Montgomeryville, PA, refers to the rise in consumption of functional and fruity drinks as "refreshment syndrome." People are not only looking for something that tastes good, but also something that refreshes and is good for them. Wilson believes that beverages are an ideal medium to support functional additives, while providing more than just a flavor profile. And, he notes, "beverages are easy for the consumer to use."
There's growing evidence that the functional and fruity beverage category is here to stay, notes Marcus Bender, president of East Meets West Xen, a division of the Hawaiian Natural Water Company, Pearl City, HI. "A lot of M.D.s are going to trade shows and ingredient shows to learn more about herbal supplements to determine how they can use them in their own practice." Not only is there a Physicians' Desk Reference for prescription drugs, but one for herbal supplements as well. This reference contains information on the benefits and side effects of various herbs, and, believes Bender, attests to the validity of the functional foods industry.
Functional fruit beverages enable people to consume something that's good for them and that doesn't require a behavioral change. The general population knows they should be eating five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and when they can't, beverages are an easy way to get there, says Jan Mills, president of Artemis International, Inc., Fort Wayne, IN. "We know fruits and vegetables are chemo-preventative factors in terms of general health. You're not going to eat fruits and vegetables to cure cancer, but you are going to eat them to reduce your risk of cancer." Mills speculates that the focus may shift from an emphasis on specific remedies (i.e., bilberry for the eyes, cranberry for urinary tract infection), as was common with traditional dietary supplements to a focus on general lifestyle and well-being.
A market sampling
A trend started by Tropicana, and one that's expected to continue, is fortification with calcium and basic vitamins and minerals. "You're going to see more and more products get into those fundamentals and see a focus on what the general population really understands is functional and value-added," says Bruce Langer, vice president of Langer Juice Company, Inc., City of Industry, CA. Langer's latest line addition is Orange Juice Plus, which contains 100% orange juice with calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, B1 and C.
Several beverage manufacturers entice consumers with interesting and unusual combinations of fruit juices and flavors in combination with herbal extracts. For instance, the Snapple Beverage Corporation in White Plains, NY markets a drink called Snapple® Meteor, containing pear, orange and tangelo juice from concentrate, plus natural tangelo flavor with other natural flavors (WONF), 250 mg ginseng extract, 125 mg guarana, and 65 mg of ginkgo biloba extract. Snapple Fire contains dragonfruit puree in addition to an assortment of fruit flavors (WONF), plus 100 mg of Siberian ginseng, 100 mg of gotu kola and 25 mg of black-current extract. Both drinks are all-natural with no preservatives, a theme common to the vast majority of functional and fruity drinks. It used to be important to make statements about what isn't in a drink (i.e., no artificial flavors or colors, etc.), notes Langer, but now manufacturers focus on what's good for you.
The infusion of vegetable juices, particularly carrot juice, into the functional fruit-drink market is becoming more evident, says Mark Ragland, director of brand strategy for Odwalla, Inc., Half Moon Bay, CA. "Pure carrot juice in itself has a number of phytonutrients and meaningful nutrition. Now, more players are using carrot juice as an ingredient for flavor, color and additional nutrition."
Campbell's Soup Company, Camden, NJ, paved the way for carrot-juice presence in a fruit beverage with V-8 Splash® - a sweet, fruity drink popular with kids. Carrot-juice concentrate not only contributes color, but is a source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. According to Ragland, Odwalla is in the process of introducing a product called Carrotonic™, "a fruity drink with carrot juice in it that delivers meaningful levels of vitamin C and A, all from fruit and vegetable sources."
Adding herbs and botanicals to fruity beverages is becoming increasingly popular as well. The combination of ingredients chosen for a particular beverage often focuses on a specific health-related benefit. East Meets West Xen™ Ginseng Cactus Juice Cocktail is designed to provide energy, with 120 mg of Korean ginseng, 120 mg of passion flower, 0.3 mg of gotu kola, and 30 mg of green-tea polyphenols per serving. Another variety, called Kava Mango Juice Cocktail, contains 125 mg of kava kava, 125 mg of St. John's wort, 60 mg of valerian root, 125 mg of chamomile and 30 mg of green-tea polyphenols. This formulation is designed to promote relaxation. "The whole concept of East meets West is eastern herbs and philosophy in medicine and western flavors," says Bender.
The popularity of soy-based beverages is on the rise, thanks to the recent FDA-approved health claim for soy protein. Drinks made with soy milk are growing in popularity, as are drinks that contain protein in the form of soy-protein isolate. Orange-pineapple flavored Ultra Slim-Fast®, from the Slim-Fast Food Company, West Palm Beach, FL, contains both soy and dairy proteins in the form of soy-protein isolate, whey-protein concentrate and milk-protein concentrate. This beverage also offers 5 grams of dietary fiber from cellulose per serving.
An innovative fruit-flavored product close to being test-marketed in the United States is NuVim™, from NuVim, Inc., Paramus, NJ. The beverage comes in strawberry-vanilla, fruit symphony, orange-tangerine, and pink grapefruit and berry flavors, and is fortified with vitamins and minerals. In addition, the beverage contains milk proteins, principally casein, plus two patented microingredients marketed by Stolle Milk Biologics, Inc. (SMBI), Cincinnati. These protein extracts, called LactoMune™ and LactoActin™, are highly functional, even though they're used in relatively low concentrations, says Lee Beck, Ph.D., president of the company. (For more information on these ingredients, see the "Functionally legal" and "A cow's contribution" sections of this article.)
Making drinks functional
Processing functional and fruity beverages is relatively straightforward. There are certain issues to contend with, such as stability of milk proteins in low-pH systems, but the bigger challenge, notes Langer, is the several hundred formula iterations it may take to balance flavor levels with vitamins, minerals and/or herbs.
Although much is known about vitamin and mineral usage, and daily reference intakes are well defined by the scientific community, there are still many uncertainties surrounding herbal supplements. Questions arise from both consumers and manufacturers. How many drinks should the consumer have per day or week? How should the functional ingredients be blended? What effect will they have? What are the active ingredients? How is dosage determined?
"Vitamins are highly purified, fine chemicals," notes Ram Chaudhari, Ph.D., senior vice president of research and development, Fortitech, Inc., Schenectady, NY. Botanical extracts are also highly purified, but "raw" botanical components may have impurities. "Some of those impurities might have some antioxidant or catalytic effect that will give a synergistic effect of which we have no clear understanding," adds Chaudhari, who feels this is an open question for the scientific community to resolve. There are also questions regarding the bioavailability, equivalency and quality aspect of various botanicals.
Suggested intake guidelines for many herbal supplements based on efficacy do exist (see "Herbal Applications" sidebar), although Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) such as those for vitamins and minerals do not. RDAs formulated by the FDA indicate the levels of vitamins and minerals needed to prevent deficiency diseases (see "Vitamin and Mineral RDAs" sidebar), not those required to maintain optimum health. Although it's important to be aware of levels required to avoid nutritional deficiencies, it's also important to consider whether supplements have tolerable upper intake levels. For instance, calcium intake above 2500 mg per day can lead to kidney stones.
Even though much scientific evidence links various botanicals to health benefits, more targeted research on the inhibition of certain enzymes or other activity is needed, says Mills. "There are clearly effects there, but we don't know the mechanisms. If you don't know the mechanisms, it's hard to get to dosage levels." This is an important issue, because different interpretations of regulations not only result in unanswered questions, but perhaps also unethical practices.
Knowing which functional ingredients to use is one dilemma, and understanding which statements can be made regarding those ingredients is yet another. Regarding antioxidant activity from anthocyanins, for example, there is clearly strong evidence of health benefits, but all of the necessary research hasn't been done. Specific health claims such as those attributed to calcium, soy or folic acid require extensive research, backed by clinical studies, that leads to evidence of health benefits as agreed upon by the general scientific community.
Understanding the provisions of DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act), as well as what constitutes a health claim, is helpful for those involved in the design of a functional beverage. Traditionally, the FDA has considered dietary supplements to be essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and proteins. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990 added herbs to the list. By 1994, the time DSHEA was passed into law, the list included items such as garlic, fish oils, enzymes and botanicals such as ginseng.
According to DSHEA, claiming that a dietary supplement either prevents, treats or cures a specific disease is not allowed unless approved under the new drug provisions of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. Statements can be made about classical nutrient deficiency diseases if they disclose the prevalence of the disease in the United States. Statements can also be made concerning the "structure or function" of the body or the state of "well-being" expected from consuming the supplement.
As an example, LactoActin "is good for people that have rheumatoid arthritis and for elderly people who suffer from inflammatory symptoms," notes Beck. "We can't say that it's an anti-inflammatory because that puts it into the drug category. We can make the statement that it supports strong joints and muscle flexibility." The challenge is to go as far as the law will allow without stepping over the boundaries.
There's also evidence supporting the claim that LactoMune enhances immune function. "A survey was run in the United States starting in 1960 and running through 1997. During that period of time there were at least 500 consumers taking the milk product," says Beck. "The health benefits and any potential side effects were documented. It was not a double-blind controlled study, but it was very significant in terms of the benefits reported. We then conducted controlled clinical trials and animal studies to confirm that the observed benefits were real.
"It is well known that antibodies in milk directed against specific human pathogens help to enhance the immune function of the intestine," continues Beck. "It's the normal job of the intestine's immune system to produce antibodies to protect the body from infection." In light of the compiled evidence, it might be all right to say that a beverage containing LactoMune enhances immune function, but not to claim that drinking this beverage treats or prevents an E. coli infection.
Firms making nutritional support claims must have proof that their statements are truthful. In addition, the product label must contain the following statement: "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." Nutritional claims of this nature do not have to be approved by the FDA prior to product launch; however, the FDA must be notified no later than 30 days following the product's entry into the market. Anyone wishing to introduce a dietary ingredient not marketed in the United States before DSHEA must inform the FDA at least 75 days prior to the introduction of a product containing the ingredient, providing the agency with documentation supporting its safety.
Efficacy and ethics
Labeling is an important element of functional and fruity beverages. "If we're going to put these functional ingredients in there, we owe it to the consumer to tell them what they're getting. At the same time, consumers should know that they might have to drink three of those drinks a week to really get the benefit," says Wilson.
Determining usage levels is a challenge in itself. If you put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, and try and create a "magic elixir," you're liable to wind up with a lot of wasted nutrients and an unpalatable beverage. According to Chaudhari, all nutrients have co-factors and co-enzymes that require a substrate. If you consume a beverage that contains 100% of everything on an empty stomach, the nutrients won't have enough of a substrate to act on. For vitamins and minerals, Chaudhari recommends a level of 30% to 35% of the RDA, except for thiamin (vitamin B1) where a level of 10% to 15% would be more appropriate. Thiamin has sulfur molecules lending to an objectionable odor and flavor if used at too high a level.
When it comes to botanicals, usage levels vary depending on the goal of the manufacturer. As Mills observes, it depends on whether the goal is to simply make a tasty drink, to enhance the total nutrition of the beverage, or to make an antiviral tonic. Certain marketers want to add a little bit of a botanical just to put it on the label, without any concern for the level of effectiveness. Some refer to these insignificant levels as "marketing levels" or "fairy dust." If this is the goal, it doesn't make economic sense to use standardized herbal supplements.
However, using ineffective levels of botanicals isn't always a marketing decision. It may also stem from lack of knowledge, since the point at which botanicals lose activity is often unknown. There are circumstances where a standardized ingredient with a certain level of antioxidant activity is formulated into a product, and then replaced with, say, a non-standardized juice-concentrate powder - which is unethical, says Mills. There are several reasons why it's easy to do this, however. The clarity of science is one, says Mills, and perhaps it's the law itself "which gives a backdrop of vagueness" because you can't make specific claims. "If my claim is that it supports the immune system, well, orange juice does that. Even though I can show a product that has far more immune-enhancing capabilities, they have the same claim, so why would you incur the cost to do something more efficacious if at the end all you can say is the same thing?"
Assuming that everyone's goal is to use standardized ingredients to achieve an efficacious supplement level, there are several ways to ensure success. "The key thing is to know that your supplier is in fact supplying you with a product that has activity, and that's particularly true with products such as fruits and herbals where you can have some that have differing levels depending on the manner in which they're processed," says Mills. By addressing customer's needs with pointed questions, Mills is able to provide the ingredient that meets their need. She might, for example, ask a manufacturer what it wants to say about a product, and then describe some health-related benefits that can be attributed to anthocyanin products. Or, she might ask how efficacious the final product needs to be, and then look at the cost of various products and figure out which ingredients are best for the given set of goals.
Focusing on the audience
The intended target audience ultimately determines the supplement profile. If 100% juice is fortified, it may actually be over-fortified for children, who have different nutritional requirements, notes John Aldrich, manager of research and development for specialty blends at Tree Top.
In addition, since juice concentrates are often used as an ingredient in other beverages, it doesn't make sense to over-fortify, because it limits the capability of the end user. For example, in the smoothie business, suppliers might "build a juice base that can support multiple supplement levels that may be applied at the store level," says Watkins. "You may find someone who has an interest in an energy boost, while somebody else wants to have the fat buster or the brain teaser. A generic juice base gives the store more flexibility to mix and match things for their customers."
If the intended consumer is an athlete, there are several factors to consider, including loss of water and minerals, as well as poor delivery of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues. A sports drink should contain essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium as well as easily digestible carbohydrates. A complex carbohydrate such as maltodextrin is a much better energy source than simple sugars in terms of sustaining energy, notes Chaudhari. The complex carbohydrate helps avoid a burst of energy followed by an immediate decline. Additionally, these beverages often contain electrolytes in the form of potassium salts to replace the salt lost during exertion.
Certain beverage manufacturers target other demographics with their products. Langer's first venture into the functional beverage category was with cranberry juice, a product traditionally consumed, particularly by women, for its urinary-tract health benefits. "Our view was that we're already dealing with a group of consumers who are looking for health benefits, so that's why we chose to marry up that juice with vitamins A, C, E and calcium," says Langer. The same additives are found in a new item called Prune Juice Plus, which is targeted toward the elderly, who are the primary consumers of this beverage. Another beverage popular with kids is Kiwi Strawberry 100, which is fortified with vitamins A, D, B3, B6, C, calcium and iron. Vitamin D is rarely added to fruit drinks, most likely because it's often used to fortify milk. However, if kids are lactose intolerant, allergic to milk or simply dislike it, this beverage gives them another source of vitamin D.
The realm of functional ingredients continues to expand as more knowledge is gained about their benefits. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, has been a fixture in beverages for a long time. Other antioxidants, such as vitamins A and E, are becoming more prevalent, as are B-complex vitamins, which help release energy from carbohydrates. Vitamins C and E work hand in hand. When water-soluble antioxidants are depleted, vitamin E takes over. "There is homeostasis at the cellular level," notes Chaudhari. Vitamin A in the form of vitamin A palmitate or acetate is not stable in the acidic conditions common to fruity drinks, and therefore must come in a form such as beta-carotene.
Supplementing beverages with minerals is on the rise. Calcium, for example, is used particularly for its role in preventing osteoporosis. Both calcium and magnesium are essential building blocks for bones and tissues. These minerals are frequently added to beverages in the form of salts, the choice depending on bioavailability, solubility and stability in low-pH systems. For instance, calcium and magnesium citrate have good solubility and bioavailability, as do calcium and magnesium lactate or gluconate, whereas the carbonate form is neither highly soluble nor bioavailable. Solubility of minerals generally improves when the pH is around 3 or 4, as is the case for acidic beverages.
Other minerals finding their way into fruity drinks include the antioxidant selenium, plus zinc, molybdenum and chromium. Molybdenum and chromium affect glucose tolerance, which regulates blood sugar. Ferrous sulfate is highly bioavailable, but also highly reactive, which adversely impacts flavor. Chaudhari suggests using technical judgment to compromise slightly on bioavailability in order to produce an acceptable end product. "In the end, the body has a tremendous capability to convert the ferric form of iron to ferrous, which is the form the body recognizes," says Chaudhari. "It may be necessary to compromise on the mineral form in order to minimize the interactions between minerals and other components. By doing so, you will achieve a product that is far superior than if you had chosen every component in a form that is 100% bioavailable."
Prebiotics are having an impact on the functional beverage area in light of studies linking them to cancer prevention and reduced serum-cholesterol levels. Prebiotics act as media for probiotics, or live organisms. Fructooligosaccharide (FOS) functions as a prebiotic to promote the growth of healthy intestinal flora, such as bifodogenic bacteria. FOS is derived from bananas and Jerusalem artichokes, as well as other fruits and vegetables. Kefir, a cultured yogurt-like beverage, can contain FOS, and comes in a variety of flavors such as strawberry, raspberry and strawberry-banana.
Phytochemicals such as anthocyanins are being used for their link to a multitude of health benefits including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and anticarcinogenic activity. In addition, there's evidence of vascular-protective effects leading to a reduction in strokes. Although many assume that blueberries have the highest anthocyanin content, chokeberries, or aroniaberries, actually have one of the highest levels, notes Mills. Aronia melanocarpa is the Latin name for the chokeberry, melanocarpa being the darkest of the aronia species. The darker the pigment, the more anthocyanin you have. The elderberry also has a higher anthocyanin content than that of the blueberry.
Oxygen Radical Absorbence Capacity (ORAC) is one of several tests available for measuring antioxidant activity. It's used because its basis is USDA research, says Mills. "(USDA) looked at ORAC activity for supplements and for food (e.g., a head of broccoli)," she notes. With ORAC, fruits and vegetables can be standardized and quantified in therapeutic concentrations for the beverage market.
Innovations using green compounds such as chlorella and spirulina are on the rise, in spite of the visual challenge associated with these functional ingredients. Although these are single-cell algae, they are complete foods in many respects. They're packed with nutrients such as protein, vitamins C, E and B-complexes, plus trace minerals and amino acids. These micronutrients are said to protect the immune system, aid in cholesterol reduction and in mineral absorption. Odwalla's Superfood™ drink blends five fruit juices with spirulina, chlorella, wheat and barley grasses and royal jelly. In addition to a rainbow of micronutrients, the drink delivers a relatively high amount of protein, says Ragland. "There is a real visual challenge to get past for many consumers, but once they taste and experience it they will feel there is something special and unique about it."
Herbal supplements have a variety of reported benefits. Some increase energy, while others boost the immune system, increase strength and stamina, enhance blood circulation and increase the supply of oxygen to vital organs. Wilson recommends using liquid rather than powdered extracts, because they can be pumped easily into a system and blend well with water or juice. Both ethanol and glycerin-based liquid extracts are available and are standardized to deliver known amounts of active ingredients.
There are, however, some potential ethical issues surrounding the use of certain botanicals in products sold to the general public. As Wilson notes, kava kava, which can be somewhat of a sedative, or saw palmetto, used for prostate treatment, are not appropriate for kids, and there's nothing to prevent a child from consuming a beverage containing one of these ingredients.
One of the biggest challenges cited by developers of functional beverages is coming up with a great-tasting beverage. Many of the supplements have off-flavors that are difficult to mask. Fruit-juice concentrates and/or flavors make it possible to achieve such a task. It's important to start with a high-quality juice with bright fresh flavor notes, says Langer. Some of those notes will invariably be lost as vitamins, minerals and herbs are added.
Fruit-juice concentrates are delineated by solids content. Fruit-juice concentrates are standardized to 60° to 70° Brix, approximately seven times the strength of the original juice. Although they may be rich in phytochemicals, they should be used for flavoring, and not for their antioxidant activity, which would be too difficult to quantify because of the raw material's variability, notes Mills. Both fruit-juice concentrates and standardized phytochemical separations can be used in an application. "We can have a blueberry drink using blueberry concentrates, but we could add to it a standardized elderberry or a standardized blueberry extract so that we can quantify and predict what the activity will be," says Mills. "When you're dealing with a fruit-juice beverage, taste is extremely important. The juice concentrates are good bases for functional ingredients. Chokeberry, for instance, is excellent for masking or enhancing flavors. "
Fruit-juice concentrates make particularly good bases for beverages because they blend well in all sorts of combinations, and people associate them with good health. Tropical fruit juices such as mango and guava are popular. "Usually tropicals are blended with other common fruits - like strawberry and kiwi, or strawberry and guava - because of familiarity," says Aldrich. A variety of juice concentrates are available, ranging from passion fruit to watermelon to peach - a popular flavor for smoothies.
The art of masking
Many functional ingredients are all but unpalatable on their own, and contribute off-flavors when used in an application. As a result, it's important to work with a flavorist during the beverage-development process. Minerals such as iron, copper and magnesium salts give metallic aftertastes, and many botanicals, such as ginseng, are bitter. "Guarana, which is a natural caffeine source, has a brown, cola-like note, and ginkgo has a very earthy, bitter-type note, almost like chicory," says Alan MacFadden, manager, beverage applications at McCormick Flavors, Hunt Valley, MD, who recommends generating descriptors for botanicals to determine key flavors and off-notes.
When it comes to masking, determining the off-note in the botanical and finding a flavor with a similar component and then manipulating it is often the key to success. According to MacFadden, there could be eight different components in a particular flavor that contribute to bitterness. Through trial and error, each component is reduced to the point where the bitterness of the supplement is masked without affecting the overall flavor. It's important to not only test the performance of the flavor during shelf life, but to see how the botanical itself ages out. "That's where after doing a six-month study on fruity carrot drinks, I found out that certain flavors performed well, like orange, peach, apricot and an apple," says MacFadden. "There was a seedy note and a cooked note in the apple that over time blended well with the carrot. As carrot ages, it becomes more pronounced; we had to add more of the apple compounds and brown notes to keep it (balanced)."
MacFadden describes how a fruit flavor pairs nicely with a botanical that has bitter, earthy notes: "You select the fruit, like peach where there's earthy notes, like the pit note. Those are important in the determination of the full experience of the peach. You need to slip in the botanical underneath, so organoleptically you might have the pit note a little bit high, but then you can lower the botanical a bit so it just rolls off like a nice sweet peach." Thermal masking with a slushy, frozen base is another trick of the trade. Cooling-type chemicals also have thermogenic masking properties. Other ingredients such as salts, acids and sweeteners aid in flavor development and masking. Different acids, such as malic or lactic, help flavors linger longer, and salts such as sodium citrate act as buffers by neutralizing pH. Using 55 D.E. high-fructose corn syrup in place of 42 D.E. might also be beneficial in masking off-flavors, due to the higher level of sweetness.
Flavorists are keenly aware of regulations dictating usage of botanicals as flavors vs. those deemed strictly dietary supplements, which is important in terms of labeling requirements. For instance, valerian is used as a flavor as well as a dietary supplement, but since it isn't recognized by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) and it isn't GRAS, it requires labeling as a dietary supplement under DSHEA guidelines. Chamomile is FEMA/GRAS, but echinacea and ginkgo biloba are not, while lemongrass as an oil is FEMA/GRAS, but as a botanical is not, says MacFadden.
A cow's contribution
Dairy ingredients not only have proven health benefits, but functional properties as well. Whey is a rich source of calcium, as well as other vitamins, minerals and proteins. Whey-protein concentrate (WPC), with a protein content of 34% to 90%, has a good rate of solubility over a wide range of pH, is bland in flavor, and improves viscosity and texture. Whey proteins are least soluble around their isoelectric points - 4.2 to 4.5 pH and 5.3 to 5.5 pH for lactalbumin and lactoglobulin respectively. In addition, heat treatment above 158°F adversely affects solubility when the pH ranges from 4.0 to 6.5. Whey-protein isolate has a protein content greater than 90%, and functions similarly to WPC in application. Emulsification of these proteins is enhanced by partial denaturation caused by exposure to heat, which causes part of the protein to uncoil, exposing hydrophobic portions capable of binding to lipids.
Other dairy ingredients with reported health-related benefits include the lactose and fat-free milk-protein extracts LactoMune and LactoActin. "LactoMune is what's called an immune protein, or antibody," explains Beck. "If you take milk from regular cows, the antibodies that are there are really for the calf and are directed against diseases that infect cows, not humans. The difference between LactoMune and regular immune protein from milk is the fact that our New Zealand cows produce antibodies specifically against pathogens that are known to be problematic in the human population." Examples of these pathogens include Salmonella, E. coli and Shigella. LactoActin, which occurs in milk produced by SMBI's cows in trace amounts, has anti-inflammatory biological activity.
The finishing touches
Stabilizers are often required to suspend particulates such as pulp, or other non-water-soluble ingredients in suspension. To suspend fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, D and K, homogenization or an emulsifier such as polysorbate is required. Other stabilizers such as xanthan or guar gum exhibit good suspending and stabilizing properties, says Florian Ward, vice president of research and development at TIC Gums, Inc., Belcamp, MD, and are stable in an acidic environment. Pectin, which is also stable at low pH, provides a smooth mouthfeel, and helps stabilize proteins in beverages. Gum arabic, (also known as gum acacia), guar gum and pectin are also good sources of soluble dietary fiber in beverage, says Ward.
Color is nearly as important to the appeal of the beverage as flavor. Using juice concentrates to color functional beverages in lieu of natural (non-certified) or artificial (certified) colors is a common practice because of their perceived health benefit. Using beta-carotene as a colorant from a source like carrot-juice concentrate provides a good source of vitamin A and is label-friendly. Sports beverages, however, typically sold in bright neon colors, do commonly use natural and/or artificial colorants (for more information on coloring beverages, see "Kids' Drinks" in the January 2000 issue of Food Product Design).
Color becomes more important in light of the findings on the antioxidant benefits of highly pigmented fruits, notes Watkins. Berries give product designers a variety of colors to work with, from blues and reds to blacks. In certain applications, reduced-color apple or pear-juice concentrates work well; with others, the full color of berries, melons or even stone fruits is desirable. According to Watkins, the same process that lightens the color of apple or pear juice concentrate may also reduce the acidity of each product. This enables manufacturers to use these ingredients as neutral sweeteners in items such as beverages, snack bars and other health-related products where a natural label-friendly sweetener is desirable.
Designing functional and fruity drinks is challenging and complex, yet exciting. It's a growing category full of opportunity for the innovative developer. As Mills says, "it doesn't have to be exotic. Tropicana added calcium. That isn't exotic, but very functional. It addresses a need in the market as well as the health of the population." The greatest challenges are balancing flavor and nutrition, and understanding how to use functional ingredients safely and effectively. So go ahead - grab yourself a green fruit drink with some spirulina and chlorella in it. Close your eyes, drink up, and let me know how it tastes.
Suggested intake guidelines of herbs based on efficacy:
Source: Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs
Vitamin and Mineral RDAs
Vitamin and Mineral RDAs
Compiled from USDA and National Research Council figures.
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